Fairytale princess Sisi – beauty above all

Sisi's amazing Journey - Österreichs legendäre Kaiserin Sisi

Which beauty cult did Empress Elisabeth cultivate? Who painted the famous portrait with the diamond stars in their hair? What hair tricks did your hairdresser use?

Sisi cultivated an extreme beauty cult , which is why she was also known as the fairytale princess of the 19th century . went down in history. Her beauty lasted around thirty years.

Her flawless complexion and her almost floor-length hair , which she gave a lot of care and attention, deserve special mention. She was considered a natural beauty with her auburn hair . She hardly used makeup or perfume. Nightly face masks with raw veal and warm olive oil baths ensured supple skin.

She was a slim and tall person , which gave her an elegant demeanor. With her natural charisma, she captivated people. There was nothing she hated more than being “gazed” (stared at) by everyone.

She was only portrayed by selected painters. We have Franz Xaver Winterhalter to thank for the famous painting with the diamond stars in the hair from 1867. There are no paintings or photographs from her later years, as she wanted to perpetuate the myth of eternal youth and beauty.

The hair cult and the tricks of the hairdresser

Sisi`s head of hair

Sisi paid a lot of attention to her almost floor-length chestnut-brown hair , which was piled up in hours of work to form a crown of hair and regularly caused headaches and neck pain .

Over the years, her hair reached a length that reached her heels. It took a lot of skill to deal with this flood of hair. The hair wash alone took a whole day and took place every three weeks. Hair was washed with essences of cognac and egg yolk .

The daily hair care lasted up to three hours and the mood of the empress was strongly related to how the hairstyle turned out. The hairdresser was therefore an important person at court.

Elisabeth’s favorite hairdresser was Fanny Feifalik, who knew how to produce the most beautiful and artistic braided hairstyles in Vienna . At the same time she had a lot of empathy and worked with a few tricks on Elisabeth’s head of hair . She secretly let the empress’s combed hair disappear under her apron on an adhesive tape , and was able to show the empress a hairless comb.

Language courses and gymnastics exercises in the Hofburg

Language study during the morning toilet

Elisabeth’s enthusiasm for physical training was well known and she can certainly be described as an athlete . Her daily routine included getting up at 6 a.m. She took a cold bath and a massage. This was followed by gymnastics and gymnastic exercises , a meager breakfast and the hour-long procedure of hairdressing .

She used the time she spent doing her hair to learn various languages such as Hungarian or Greek. Her Greek teacher was Constantinos Christomanos , who sparked her interest in Greek antiquity.

As she got older, Elisabeth tortured her body even more with hours of exercise on parallel bars, rings and dumbbells . Starvation diets became even more extreme in order to be able to remain true to the ideal of youth. In the Hofburg she had gymnastics rooms set up , which can still be visited today.

Austria’s first top model with a wasp waist

Empress Elizabeth


By the standards of the time, Elisabeth was tall at 172 cm. Her wasp waist was just under 50 cm and she weighed no more than 50 kg , consistently throughout her life (excluding the four pregnancies).

Getting dressed was a procedure that could take over three hours. The famous “constriction” took quite a while until the wasp waist was narrow enough. Due to the tight lacing, Sisi often had shortness of breath.

The empress ate relatively little and is known for her starvation diets . She maintained her body weight with an orange diet, an egg diet, a milk diet, salted raw egg whites instead of lunch, and the occasional violet ice cream. The weight was checked daily and the scales were never allowed to show more than 50 kg.

When it came to fashion, Elisabeth was stylish , natural, elegant, never overloaded or obtrusive. At that time, no lady at the Viennese court could compete with the beauty and style of the empress. Nowadays we would call her an it girl and a fashion icon . She would be an influencer on Instagram for sure.

Tip from Sisi’s Amazing Journey: In the imperial apartments of the Hofburg , you can visit the empress ‘ gym.

More information: Imperial Apartments – Hofburg Vienna (hofburg-wien.at)

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